Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

Jazzin'
By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

PRELUDES:

1) I am writing much of this on the ninth birthday of my daughters, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweethearts!

2) I am writing the rest of this following a major computer glitch, which required me to transfer files to a different computer. Much time was lost, thus necessitating the postponement of some of the segments I had originally planned for this month, including reviews of CDs by some of the sidemen who were in town supporting other artists as headliners.

RECENT CONCERTS

CD Release Parties at the Jazz Factory: Zach Brock, Ryan Cohan & Eric Person

Preliminarily, I believe it is past time to acknowledge the importance of the jazz Factory, not just as a Louisville club, but as a significant player on the national scene. In less than three weeks, three important artists all chose the Jazz Factory to premiere new releases. Zach Brock even recorded his new CD here and Ryan Cohan mentioned club owner Ken Shapero in the list of people thanked in his CD. Eric Person and Meta‑Four began their CD tour here.

Zach Brock used his Zach Brock Group performance on Thursday, September 13 as a vehicle for introducing his new CD, Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers Live at the Jazz Factory, available through his website www.zachbrock.com, or www.cdbaby.com, or www.itunes.com, if you have trouble finding it locally. A companion DVD is in the works, as well. Brock, a Lexington native who woodshedded in Chicago before moving to New York, is a talented violinist whose band on this recent visit included guitarist John McLean, bassist Matt Ulery, saxophonist Jim Gailloreto and drummer Jon Dietemeyer, the only "Coffee Achiever" besides Brock himself. "Mr. Shaw," from the Coffee Achievers canon, opened the set and was followed by a funky "Resisting the Beast," from the new live CD. An unusual arrangement of Jimi Hendrix's "Drifting" was next, followed by a song that was like a suite; although previously titled, Brock has relegated it to "untitled" status. My friend Jim Coryell commented on some Bartok influence and we agreed that the gentler side of the Mahavishnu Orchestra was also a reference point. Brock has become a spokesman for the short-lived Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert (1946-1979) and performed Seifert's "Kilimanjaro" to close the first set. This featured a cyclic rhythm pattern similar to the Grateful Dead's "The Other One." Gailloreto's soprano sax wove long lines of increasing intensity through the piece, after which Brock soloed and then engaged McLean in a stunning duet segment.

The second set opened with another "Coffee Achiever" standard, "Common Ground," a fast piece allowing for tenor sax, violin and drum solos as the song nimbly changed time signatures. "Blood Root," a midtempo piece, was a vehicle for Brock to express his concern about the problems of strip mining and featured McLean's soloing over arco bass and drums. Brock was all smiles during Gailloreto's long and emotional solo on "Now I Know," also on the new album. Ulery was featured in a rich and gorgeous prelude to "Wallflower," which was followed by "Almost Never Was" from the live CD. Brock again closed his set with another Seifert composition, "City of Spring," which was originally on a record dedicated to McCoy Tyner and definitely had a Tyner vibe. An unexpected encore featured a stunning arrangement of "You Don't Know What Love Is." Brock demonstrated not only his abilities on the electric violin throughout the night, but also his abilities as a bandleader, choosing musicians who were all superb. McLean and Ulery's CDS were to be reviewed this month, but will have to wait due to the computer problems.

Following Brock is no easy task, but Chicago pianist and composer Ryan Cohan made it look easy as he brought his quartet in the next two nights, Friday‑Saturday, September 14 -15. Longtime Cohan associates saxophonist Geof Bradfield and bassist Lorin Cohen were joined by drummer Michael Raynor, as regular drummer Kobie Watkins was in Japan with Kurt Elling. Cohan's new album, One Sky: Tone Poems for Humanity, is his first for the Motema label (home of Louisville favorite Lynne Arriale, among others) and features Bob Sheppard, James Cammack, Geof Bradfield, Tito Carrillo, Lorin Cohen and Kobie Watkins. I was pleased to see Jazz Factory owner Ken Shapero in the list of "thankees," as the Jazz Factory has been a supporter of Cohan's music since it opened. A waltz featuring Bradfield on soprano was in progress as I entered and was followed by "Double Agent" from the new release. This was a fast Latin-tinged number, with pianist and drummer pushing against each other to create musical tension and release, after which Bradfield's solo leaned into the abstract and included a quote from the opening "Acknowledgment" movement of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." Cohan has always relished the work of Thelonious Monk and paid tribute to him in "Monk's Dream," which swung hard and allowed Bradfield a chance to work out on his tenor. The set closer "Checkmate," also from the new CD, took Cohan and company into McCoy Tyner modal territory.

The second set opened with a Coltrane-like invocational feel, with Raynor moving from mallets to sticks as the moods changed. "Steppin' Up," as introduced by Cohan, "features our drummer on a blues head I wrote." The Victor Feldman piece associated with Miles Davis, "Joshua," was enjoyable and led to a new piece from One Sky, "Six Fortunes," which featured a lengthy bowed bass introduction with Oriental motifs from Cohan and cymbal effects from Raynor. Cohan followed with a solo interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life," as featured on One Sky and closed the evening with Kenny Barron's "The Pelican," which combined precision and speed with deep emotion. The album itself features a beautiful cover photograph by Cohan himself and is anchored by a four-part suite underwritten by the Chamber Music America New Works Creation and Presentation Program. Throughout both the suite and the other songs on this CD, Cohan's writing seems to reach new levels. He told me between sets that "I try to write more expansively, not just head charts and the suite was built with the [expanded] sextet in mind. I rely on orchestration to get the point across - stretching lines out more and using the piano with horns as counterpoints." If you have not caught any if Cohan's performances yet, that is all the more reason to find this CD and give it the attention which it deserves. This is an excellent and intelligent recording and deserves a wide audience.

The October 5 performance by Eric Person and Meta‑Four marks the ensemble's third appearance here. Pianist Jerod Kashkin had recently joined "old-timers" Peter O'Brien on drums and Adam Armstrong on bass last year and is now thoroughly integrated into the group. All are present on Person's brand-new release Rhythm Edge (Distinction Records DR4004), along with occasional guest appearances. This new CD ranges from hard-swinging pieces such as the title cut and "It's Time Again" (featuring Jensen), to the lovely ballad "Sunset," with an occasional foray into pop instrumentals such as "Reach" and "Beauty" and updated funk workouts such as "I'll Be Just Fine" and "Pretty Strange Love." In concert, Person opened with Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," which updated this classic piece with shifting moods. "Reach," from the new CD, was next and after a somewhat poppish opening went straight for the jugular with Person's solo. "Milestones," the Miles Davis vehicle, was next, followed by a piece for Charles Mingus, "Majestic Taurean Majesty," a bluesy piece allowing Armstrong room to stretch out. Miles Davis' "Solar" was deconstructed and reinterpreted, with fast-paced soloing adding an edge to this classic piece.

Clubowner Ken Shapero was on vacation and your humble scribe was drafted to introduce the second set, which opened with another tune from Rhythm Edge, "It's Time Again," featuring an insistent bass riff. Herbie Hancock's "One Finger Snap" flirted with free jazz and allowed Person to demonstrate why he is not just another sax player, as he took chances and energized his bandmates. The pace was slower for "Beauty," a ballad with guts from the new CD. The funky "Bravado" and a midtempo rendition of "Stella By Starlight" closed the performance. More information on this artist may be found at his website, www.ericperson.com.

ROLAND VAZQUEZ AT THE 2007 BIG ROCK JAZZ FEST

The Louisville Jazz Society was among the sponsors of the Highlands‑Douglass Big Rock Jazz Fest, held this year on Sunday, October 7. The weather was unusually hot and the heat generated by headliner Roland Vazquez added to the sultry atmosphere. Due to the heat and taking my daughters, I did not arrive in time to catch sets by the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University Jazz Ensembles. Nonetheless, I applaud the planners for integrating student jazz groups with the featured artists over the years. Drummer and composer Vazquez, who previously performed here in November 2003 at PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention) and a few months later at the Jazz Factory, brought an all-star band with him, consisting of pianist Mark Soskin, electric bassist Anthony Jackson, saxophonist Joel Frahm and percussionist Michael Lipsey. Vazquez led the group through a series of original compositions, including "No Rest for the Bones of the Dead," Beyond this Dream," and "Mas Mediosa." Vazquez seamlessly integrates Latin rhythms and counterrhythms into a modern jazz setting, creating music which, to borrow the title of an Ornette Coleman album, allows the listener to engage in "dancing in your head."

ON THE HORIZON

PAT METHENY TRIO

As mentioned here for the past two issues, Pat Metheny returns to Louisville for the first time in at least a decade, on November 5, heading a trio featuring bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez. The performance will be at the Brown Theatre, with tickets available through the Kentucky Center Box Office. Louisvillians are fortunate to have a chance to Metheny in a trio setting and if there is any justice, this should be a sellout. In a recent interview, Metheny commented on how this trio has now played many performances around the world and has developed its own repertoire which borrows from the Pat Metheny Group canon but also adds many numbers written especially for this lineup. Fans of not just Metheny, but of jazz guitar, should not miss this special show.

DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET

If anyone deserves the title "living legend" in the jazz world, it is surely Dave Brubeck. Now approaching his 87th birthday, he returns to Louisville for one performance only, on Saturday, November 10 at 8 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium. The Dave Brubeck Quartet played two amazing concerts here in 2003; for my review of those performances, surf to www.louisvillemusicnews.net/lmn/issues/2003/2003April/davebrubeckgivesfourhoursw97.php. Brubeck's group featured then and will again feature on this tour, saxophonist Bobby Militello, drummer Randy Jones and bassist Michael Moore. For more information on this concert, go to : www.jazz.louisville.edu or call the University of Louisville at 502-852‑6907. This is a concert not to be missed!

Indian Summer (Telarc CD‑83670) is Dave Brubeck's new solo CD. On it, Brubeck performs a touching repertoire of originals and standards, including "Sweet Lorraine" and "Memories of You." In addition, he is among the luminaries in the second series of Jazz Icons DVDs just released, with two concerts from 1964 and 1966 featuring the classic Quartet with saxophonist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene "Senator" Wright and drummer Joe Morello. According to a press release from his label, Brubeck was officially designated a Living Legend of Jazz at a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in March; on July 12, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Jazz Awards; and he and his wife, Iola, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on September 21.

Selected Club Listings

The Jazz Factory (815 W. Market St. in The Glassworks, 502-992‑3242) always has a complete and updated schedule, with more details, at the website: www.jazzfactory.us. Highlights (my listing is subjective and omission of an act is due to space and time limitations, [especially time this month!] not quality judgments) include the Louisville debut of up and coming singer/songwriter Sachal Vasandani on Thursday, November 1; his work is garnering praise from national media and he brings with him pianist Jeb Patton and bassist David Wong, who recently was here with Pete Zimmer. Unless his style has changed since I last heard him, The David Becker Tribune on Friday, November 2, should appeal to fans of "smooth jazz." Then comes the timeless master of jazz and blues, Mose Allison for two shows on Saturday November 3. "Young Man Blues," "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy," "Your Mind Is on Vacation (But Your Mouth Is Working Overtime)" are three well-known songs of his that have been covered by the Who, Bonnie Raitt and others; come hear the original singer/songwriter who has influenced so many. Louisville native saxophonist Don Braden returns for his annual Thanksgiving gigs on Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24. Looking ahead, David "Fathead" Newman returns on Friday December 7.

In addition to these featured performers, the Jazz Factory presents fine jazz every night, Tuesday through Saturday, with early specials, a revamped menu and an eclectic mix of acts Friday and Saturday nights after the second jazz set, for the Late Night Salon series.

The Seelbach Jazz Bar, (500 S. Fourth Street, 502-585‑3200), features vibraphonist and occasional pianist Dick Sisto, who always provides excellent mainstream jazz, frequently with guest artists joining him.

The Jazz Kitchen (5377 N College Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46220; phone: 317‑253‑4900; www.thejazzkitchen.com), presents: the adventurous keyboard artist Michael Wolff on November 16. These are in addition to the nightly offerings of local and regional jazz; check the website for the full schedule.

The November schedule for The Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, 318 East Eighth St. (513-241‑WISP), includes Wednesday night performances by the Blue Wisp Big Band, piano trios on Thursday nights and weekend visitors. For additional information, go to www.bluewisp.net.

Important Note, Part 2:For almost as long as I have written this column, I have recommended that you sign up for "The Jazz E‑News." However, at this writing, this service has been discontinued. The Louisville Jazz Society is in the process of revamping its website (www.louisvillejazz.org) and plans to offer a new means to disseminate news of live performances locally. The new site is now up and running and offers the opportunity to sign up for the e-mail "Louisville Jazz Society's Jazz Insider." In any event, there are so many opportunities to hear live jazz that it is both impossible for me to try to provide a complete listing here and it would be duplicative of the weekly listings in the Courier-Journal and LEO and the Louisville Music News' monthly music listings, in both the print and online editions (www.louisvillemusicnews.net).

NEW FEATURE: LOCAL JAZZ CONTACTS

With two just-turned nine‑year‑olds, it's hard to get out as much as I would like to hear music. As a result, picking and choosing which performances to catch sometimes require that I postpone seeing some of the local musicians and singers in order to not miss the one-night-stands from out-of-town artists. Invariably, I feel guilty, so in an effort to assuage my guilt and, more positively, to provide more exposure to our community of great local jazz performers, I am initiating this feature containing website and e-mail contact information. I am only including those artists who have given their permission to me; some have indicated a preference for website listing only; others have only e-mail addresses. If you wish to be included, drop a line to me with your permission and preferences, at mzkjr@yahoo.com. I reserve the right to edit and to exclude those whose connection to jazz is, in my opinion, tenuous; and this feature may end up online if it begins to take up too much space in print.

BOBBY FALK: www.myspace/bobbyfalk.com, drummer and composer Bobby Falk;

WALKER & KAYS: www.walkerandkays.com, singer Jeanette Kays and guitarist Greg Walker;

JENNIFER LAULETTA: www.jenniferlauletta.com, singer Jennifer Lauletta;

JEFF SHERMAN: jeff.sherman@insightbb.com, guitarist Jeff Sherman;

RON JONES: www.ronjonesquartet.com, rjmusic@ronjonesquartet.com, saxophonist Ron Jones;

STEVE CREWS: www.jazzcrews.com, jazzcat@iglou.com, pianist Steve Crews.

CODA

I am always interested in your comments. Contact me at mzkjr@yahoo.com.